Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Membership


Committee membership was broad and included a wide range of representatives in San Francisco, San Diego, and in Carlton and Northern St. Louis Counties. In these sites, the coordination efforts tended to be broad in scope and to focus on a range of activities. The Family Violence Council is the largest of San Francisco's coordinating groups and has a very broad membership including the gay and lesbian communities, religious and business communities, ethnic groups and domestic violence survivors, in addition to the Courts, law enforcement, social service agencies and health care providers. The council's activities include criminal justice and health-related activities in addition to community education. San Diego's DV Council enjoys representation of over 200 agencies and individuals including law enforcement, social service agencies, the medical community, and the military. Similarly, the Family Violence Council in Northern St. Louis County includes broad representation from schools, social services, health professionals, the business community and other community agencies. Between the several coordinating committees in Carlton County, there is representation by victim advocates, the Reservation Business Council, courts, law enforcement, mental health service providers, the education system, county commissioners and community leaders.

In Kansas City, Baltimore and Carlton County, the coordinating committees are more narrowly focused on criminal justice issues, although Kansas City has another coordinating committee for the area's shelters. In these communities, the coordinating committees center largely on criminal justice related issues and activities, and have limited involvement of other community agencies. In Baltimore, this was an intentional decision because DVCC members believed that they would be more successful if they focused on a single area and also felt that they could discuss criminal justice issues more freely if the membership was limited. However, the DVCC is beginning to expand its membership to include other service providers.

The level of staff participating in the coordinating committees also varied across the sites. For example, representatives on Baltimore's DVCC are primarily senior staff from criminal justice agencies and judges, a feature which several people felt was responsible for the committee's success. Because these people have the authority to make decisions on behalf of their agencies, the committee can resolve issues quickly. The DVCC also has a separate workgroup for front- line staff to discuss coordination issues and policy changes. The response to this group by front- line staff has been very positive and the number of people attending the meetings has risen substantially since it started. In the remaining communities, the committees were more mixed in the level of staff attending the meetings, including both senior managers and front-line staff. While representation of high-level people can lend legitimacy to a coordinating body and result in more timely policy changes, the San Diego DV Council attributes much of their success to broad based community and grass-roots involvement.